A bombshell was dropped on the Internet yesterday when Google announced the July 1 termination of Reader. The kneejerk reaction of the Twitterverse occurred. An outcry of thousands of users were suddenly thrust upon social media. The company whose tagline is “Don’t Be Evil” is brandished among the brouhaha predictable powerusers, almost as a “I Told You So” hipster statement. The exodus led to advice sites such as LifeHacker to find a Band-Aid remedy. Services such as Feedly, Pulse, NewsBlur, Old Reader offer a “new” and “exciting” way to receive your news.
I don’t want new and exciting. Almost every new service pushes social media or a sharing service or to allow a commentary on your reading habits. Google Reader, which I have been a user since it’s birth in 2005, allowed me to cultivate 250 automotive sites that supplied me with up to the minute activities in the 24/7 industry of stance, OEM, and photography. Wherein 30 quality technological sites ranging from Android to Windows to Linux to hacking to the weird fringe technology in your neighbor’s basement allowed me to make very consumer-driven decisions on these dynamic products and services. 75 graphic design and interior design sites (yes, that means houses) were at my fingertips whenever the urge for inspiration hit me like writer’s block. Staying on top of my Sounders through Reader proved invaluable. And all of this was mine to enjoy in the privacy of my home. At my rare leisure pace. At my finicky discretion. It was my newspaper and magazine and television news network curated all by me over the last 8 years.
And now Google deems it necessary that because, and I am only guessing here, it cannot monetize this service (they say there is a decline in users) that they cannot possibly bother to keep it going. Fine. Great. It’s not personal, it’s business. So you aren’t doing any evil but you certainly are leaving a lot of people out in the cold. Instead of acting like the saintly little company many of us revere you as, Google, you are acting like a corporate mob boss. Capping your most loyal subjects in the kneecaps and expecting them to stay with you. I can forgive you for shutting down iGoogle. It was a great portal but unification of the brand makes sense. There are plenty of other places to go for that (MSN for instance…oooooh burn) but extinguishing the long-lasting flame of a really good RSS reader that took the essence of the subscription-based services and gave it to the masses for FREE? You guys didn’t even bother to offer up a glimmer of hope in the form of Google+.
If Google+ is going to be the replacement for Reader, implement it carefully. Allow the users to still add RSS feeds. This would hopefully prove to be useful in getting more users on board with the social network through some second-hand smoke signals. In turn, and in time (for fuck’s sake, you are Google, you are the patient Giant), websites and companies will migrate over and start posting their content on Google+. I can’t find even a fifth of my car sites or design blogs on Google+. This does not make it a viable option. I am not saying this is entirely Google’s fault (G+ is after all a tech-centric network) but Google has to woo users. Like a romantic interest from afar in a crowded party, Google has to entice users to actually use the service. And the first step, would be to tell us, the casualties in the Reader shutdown, what they have in store.
Oh, Google you are worried about Facebook or Microsoft stealing your ideas? For crying out loud! Put on your Big Boy Pants. They don’t have the clout let alone the foresight to even begin to figure out how this could work. Twitter, maybe, but that’s a lot of work for the users to use their Lists function. If this is your great majestic plan (I am justing hoping there bloody is one), for the love of everything good about Reader though, keep the option open to keep whatever I read private.
I feel social networking has gone too far because it killed something I would actually pay good money for. Google’s shutdown of Reader is a blow to not only powerusers like myself but the entire movement behind the idea of the Internet. It was a layered symbiotic relationship that generated massive click bait, preposterous articles, motivates social movements. Most importantly and possibly most relevant, Google Reader allowed for the easy spread of the ideas through a true user curated flow of information. It broke down the masses influx of data and gave it to the massives in bite-sized portions. It made the Internet self-sustainable.